Overall crime down in Baltimore County, though homicides increase

Homicides are up, but overall crime is down in Baltimore County.

While the number of homicides increased, overall crime in Baltimore County continued to decrease in 2014, officials said Wednesday.

Twenty-five people were killed in homicides in 2014, up from 20 the year before. Police officials said the five-year average for homicides in the county is 25.

Baltimore County had a decrease in rapes and aggravated assaults, and robbery numbers were flat compared to the year before. Nonviolent crimes, including burglaries, thefts and arson, also declined.

The overall decrease in crime from the five-year average was 7.2 percent, recorded across all 12 police precincts, said Chief Jim Johnson. The decline from the year before was 5.2 percent.

At a news conference at police headquarters in Towson on Wednesday, Johnson said the number of crimes decreased as the county's population — more than 825,000 — continues to grow.

"That's an incredible achievement, when you think about it," Johnson said.

In addition to the increase in homicides, there also was an increase in robberies at convenience stores and gas stations — from 130 in 2013 to 164 in 2014. Officials attributed the increase, in part, to one man who was suspected in 30 to 40 robberies before he was caught.

"He was very good and very lucky," Johnson said.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz praised the work of the police, noting it is a difficult time to be an officer with increased scrutiny of police across the country. Tensions between police and residents have increased in Baltimore City following the April death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was injured while in police custody.

Kamenetz said the county is focused on hiring good officers, training them well and supervising them properly.

"We also have a strong relationship with the community," he said. "That really makes a difference here in Baltimore County."

pwood@baltsun.com

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